Lack of opt-out data could hide coercion

Work and pensions select committee chair Ann Begg has raised concerns over employers not having to provide auto-enrolment opt-out rates to The Pensions Regulator.

TPR will collect the number of employees that a firm enrols into a pension but will not hold specific data on what proportion of the firm’s staff that number represents. In a committee session with TPR last week, Begg said not having ready access to opt-out rates would make it harder to identify businesses which might be forcing people to opt out.

She said: “Clearly, the firms at which, miraculously, all of their employees opt out, are the ones you would target as potentially having used coercion but you will not know that, will you?”

Although TPR will be able to get opt-out rates from providers, its chief executive Bill Galvin said the regulator would be able to “put the pieces of the jigsaw together sufficiently” using data it will hold without having to regularly approach firms.

He said: “By comparing HM Revenue & Customs’ PAYE information and the number of employees and how many people are enrolled into sch-emes, we will understand where there is a significant gap.”